CHICAGO — Sometimes it pays to be chatty.
Talking is one thing Kimber Bermudez has no problem with, especially when you ask her about her job, and one of those conversations set off a chain reaction of kindness that netted her over $500.
"I am a talker, I had no idea that it would turn into this," Bermudez said.
Bermudez is a first grade teacher at Carlos Fuentes Charter School on the Northwest Side. She was on a Southwest flight to Florida to see her parents last Tuesday when she struck up a conversation with the man next to her.
"He was asking me what do you do for a living, I said I’m a teacher, I’m passionate; I can’t just stop at that so I start talking about my students, how I love them," Bermudez said.
That conversation went on for about 30 minutes, during which Bermudez gushed about how much of a community Fuentes is with the students, staff and parents. What she didn’t realize is that others on the plane were listening too.
"The man behind me, as the plane was landing tapped me and handed me the money and started the chain reaction," she said. "The guy next to me said, 'Hey, I was listening too, I don’t have much but will this help?' And then the guy in front of me turned and around and said, 'I don’t have much either, I just want to make a difference.'"
Bermudez says she started crying as she thanked them.
"My parents always taught me when you babysit don’t count the cash, it’s rude, so I didn’t even realized until I got into the car with my mom, how much money he handed me and he gave me $500," Bermudez said.
Fuentes Principal Joanne Tanner isn’t surprised something like this happened to Bermudez.
"She is incredibly talkative, but also incredibly positive and always searching for opportunities to give back to her classroom and really go above and beyond for her students," Tanner said.
Bermudez says she never got the names of her generous donors, so she wrote about it on Facebook in hopes of finding them. Instead the post went viral, with nearly 6,000 likes and over 2,000 shares.
"... if I could, I would run up to them and thank them and tell them, 'thank you,' cause they’ve started a chain reaction of kindness," Bermudez said. "They’ll get to know the amazing things they are going to do for our school."
Bermudez says other donations have been coming into the school. She hopes that enough money can be raised to build a playground for the students. As for the $530 she collected on the plane, she will use that money to buy English and Spanish books for the students, so they can take them home to read with their families.
The lesson here: kindness is contagious.